Furloughs are a temporary, required period of time off for employees without pay used to save organizations money. Like many universities and government bodies around the country, The University of Toledo plans to use furloughs as one method to help balance its budget.
The state of Ohio has given all boards of trustees at state institutions the authority to require “mandatory furloughs of employees to achieve spending reductions necessitated by institutional budget deficits.”
The advantage of furloughs is that they help minimize the number of employee layoffs and position the University to recover more quickly when the need for cost-saving measures has diminished. The furlough program is a strategic decision to help UT avoid the more severe plight of many other institutions around the country.
The goal of the furloughs is to save the University $1.3 million in salary and retirement contributions, plus additional money in energy savings.
Who is required to participate in the furlough program?
The primary guiding principle of UT’s furlough program is that all benefit-eligible employees will participate, therefore minimizing the impact on any particular employee classifications.
Part-time employees will have their furlough prorated based on their full-time equivalency.
The furloughs and the impact of the furloughs are being negotiated with the institution’s various unions.
For non-bargained for employees, see the chart on this page. the furlough program is as follows:
Employees who are essential during the furlough period, such as those who work in UT Medical Center, will have to take their furlough days the next calendar week no later than Jan. 8 or in lieu of holiday pay. Permission to use an alternate furlough schedule must be approved at the vice president and/or provost levels.
Exceptions will be made for individuals such as temporary employees, student employees, graduate and research assistants, medical residents, postdoctoral students and grant-funded positions. Furloughs for grant-funded positions will be prorated based on the compensation breakdown between the grant and UT.
When will the furlough program occur?
UT, excluding UT Medical Center, will be closed Monday, Dec. 28, through Thursday, Dec. 31, with the regular holiday schedule picking back up Friday, Jan. 1.
This timeframe was chosen for furloughs because students are not on campus and it is a relatively slower work period for the majority of employees. This is consistent with UT’s student-centered mission. Shutting down the University for the week also will allow the University to save money on energy costs.
Most employees will have one or two unpaid furlough days and will be required to take them Monday, Dec. 28, and Tuesday, Dec. 29. During the other two days that the University will be closed that week, employees can use vacation, personal days, comp time or choose to go unpaid. If an employee does not have any time available, the time will be unpaid. However, by communicating the timeframe of the furloughs four months in advance, it is hoped employees who are out of vacation time will be able to accrue hours if they desire to use them during the time the University is closed. All unpaid leaves of absence need approval.
Employees cannot use vacation, personal days, comp time or sick time on unpaid furlough days. A furlough is unpaid time off and that’s why it is a cost-savings to the University.
Currently, no other furlough days at UT are planned; however, in the event of further budget cuts or difficulty balancing the budget, furloughs will continue to be considered as an option.
Because furlough days are unpaid, your pay will be reduced by the number of furlough days you have during that pay period. All Health Science Campus employees and Main Campus hourly employees will see lesser gross pay in their Jan. 15 checks, and Main Campus salary employees will notice it in their Jan. 1 checks.
Despite a reduction in hours worked, the University has decided to not reduce sick and vacation time accruals for the furlough period. You will receive your standard allotment of both.
The furloughs also will not affect your eligibility for benefits. The dollar amount you pay still will be deducted from your paycheck, and the coverage you receive when you file a claim will not change.
An employee’s contribution and the employer contribution to a retirement plan are based on a percentage of earnings and will be reduced during the pay periods in which furlough hours are taken. In other words, fewer dollars will be invested.
Any garnishments based on your percentage of pay will be reduced based on your earnings in the pay period in which the furlough is taken.
Child support payments are taken out of paychecks in set amounts determined by court orders, so this dollar amount will not be reduced.
Furlough hours do not count toward hours worked for overtime purposes. It is important that no employee’s work week total more than 40 hours.
Do not work while the University is closed
Employees on furlough during the week the University is closed are not allowed to work. This includes reading or responding to e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues, and being on site of your work location at any time during your furlough days. If an employee does work during his or her furlough without permission, he or she will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
If an employee must work while on furlough because of an emergency, he or she will need to reschedule a furlough prior to Jan. 8.
For updates on the furlough program, visit www.utoledo.edu/depts/hr/furloughs.html. If you have specific questions regarding your situation, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.